Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Vittorio De Sica
- Sophia Loren as Adelina Sbaratti/Anna/Mara
- Marcello Mastroianni as Carmine Sbaratti/Renzo/Augusto Rusconi
- Aldo Giuffrè as Pasquale
- Gianni Ridolfi as Umberto
- Tina Pica as Grandmother
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is three tales of comedy and drama directed by Vittorio De Sica, best known for his work in neo-realism. Starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in three tales of the power of sexuality and how people use it, this portmanteau film is a comedic gem with humour to burn and excellent performances.
In Adelina, the first and longest segment, the eponymous character lives in Naples with her unemployed husband Carmine. To make ends meet in their poverty-stricken lives, she sells cigarettes on the black market. One day, she is caught doing this and is threatened with this. After consulting a lawyer, Adelina finds that according to Italian law, a women who is pregnant can’t be imprisoned as well as sixth months after giving birth. This sets in motion Adelina’s scheming, in order to avoid prison she will keep on having children. After seven children, Carmine is exhausted and Adelina must face the possibility of going to prison for her crimes or having a child with her husband’s best friend Pasquale. In the middle segment Anna, a wealthy businessman’s wife is having an affair with Renzo. Whilst her husband is away, she goes for a drive with Renzo in her Rolls Royce through Milan. Anna is selfish and seems devoid of feeling, this makes Renzo question whether she is the right women for him. His decision is further called into question when Anna nearly runs over a young boy, and shows hardly any remorse. And in the last and most sexy story Mara, a high-class prostitute living in Rome. She is well aware of her beauty and knows exactly how to play men. One of her most prominent clients is the neurotic but randy Augusto. In the apartment next door to Mara’s lives an old women, her husband and for a time Umberto, a young man studying for priesthood. The minute he meets the gorgeous Mara he falls for her and begins to question the vows he will take soon. This incurs the wrath of his Grandma, who reluctantly enlists Mara’s help in helping him make the right decision. Prepare for a troika of sexy, witty and well-executed stories boasting excellent chemistry between Loren and Mastroianni.
Vittorio De Sica takes a break from his serious dramas to show his gift for comedy, and directs with a natural ability with his actors of choice. Sophia Loren, surely one of the most beautiful women to grace the screen, is at her peak as three different characters wielding sexual power. She cleverly and naturally invests each character she portrays with a sexy, warm and comic flair and she is greatly supported by Marcello Mastroianni. Mastroianni exudes humour and his expressive face is utilized to great effect throughout the three tales. They are surrounded by many fine and eccentric characters, but it is their film all the way through. Like any portmanteau film, not every part is perfect. The second story is too short and we don’t really get to know the characters that well. The only really purpose of it is to act as an interlude between the other chapters, but it is too short to be interesting. Whereas, the other two stories are excellently played and keep you watching, Adelina being the highlight. Watching as she schemes to avoid prison in a new way and Mastroianni exhausted after seven children is comically scripted, especially when he is castigated by a row of black market women about his reluctance to have any more children. Mara, was the part of the film that garnered the most headlines, in part due to Sophia Loren’s striptease. It may seem tame by today’s standards, but it still is a very sexy highlight to a cheeky film. The other thing to praise except the wonderfully flinty chemistry and performances is the music, which gives the film a mischievous and playful quality.
The winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a hysterically funny and realised trio of sexy comedy. Even if you don’t get the film or enjoy it, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni will most certainly grab the attention with their well-played performances and unbeatable chemistry.